Too hot to handle…. or work

 

As the hot weather continues, MPs have urged the government to introduce a maximum workplace temperature – especially for work that involves physical effort. advo HR takes a closer look.

Although this weather is lovely, unfortunately we all still have to go to work! But from an employer perspective how can the heat in the workplace be managed?

There is no legal minimum or maximum temperature for the workplace. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that the temperature in all indoor workplaces should ‘provide reasonable comfort’; however, it should go without saying that what is reasonable for one business may not be appropriate for another.

Whilst there is no legal standard on working temperatures the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Approved Code of Practice provides some guidance. The code defines a reasonable minimum temperature for indoor working as 16°C, or 13°C if strenuous physical work is involved. There is no set upper temperature guideline but the code also states that an “acceptable zone of thermal comfort” is between 13°C and 30°C.

Actions to help make the environment as comfortable as possible:

  • Closing the blinds
  • Opening the windows
  • Turning on the air conditioning
  • Installing fans
  • Ensuring that there is a good supply of drinking water
  • Ensure desks are away from direct sunlight
  • Consider dress code during the period but making sure the rules around the slightly relaxed dress code are communicated.
  • If uniform or safety equipment is to be worn ensure that your employees take regular breaks and stay as cool and hydrated as possible.
  • Allow flexible working -option of coming in earlier and staying later to avoid the sweltering conditions of the rush hour commute.
  • If work is to be done outside, sunscreen should be available and plenty of breaks in the shade.

The hot weather can make workers feel tired and less energetic especially for those who are young, older, pregnant or those on medication. Employers may wish to give these workers, more frequent rest breaks and ensure ventilation is adequate by providing fans, or portable air cooling units.

The HSE offers further guidance on workplace temperatures including details on carrying out an optional thermal comfort risk assessment if staff are unhappy with the temperature – Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – Temperature.

 

 
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